One poor decision can tank everything. Middle-aged Laurel Peterson has struggled for a lifetime to overcome her damaging childhood. She’s managing quite well as a successful graphic artist in Scottsdale, Arizona, when life comes crashing down. She decides to indulge in just one drink to take the edge off, but a third DUI rips away everything she’s worked to build. She finds herself in the infamous Tent City jail in the scorching Arizona desert, pending a subsequent prison sentence. Laurel, determined to fight her demons, scrabbles to make real changes in her life and become sober once and for all. But, can she… with her sister’s murder, an ungrateful mother battling Parkinson’s Disease, and the stakes ratcheting upward when she’s contacted by a son she abandoned nineteen years before?
- Back Cover Blurb
"Peterson, you've got mail."
- First Sentence - Buckeye, Arizona: October 2016
"They can check out two books at a time for a week. It seems very restrictive - cripes, it is very restrictive - but its the only way to accommodate everyone because we're so over-crowded. On most days, the woman stand in line for quite a while before they are allowed in for that one hour per week."
- Memorable Moment, Page 149
MY THOUGHTS ... I hold my hands up, whilst intrigued by the premise I began reading Radical Acceptance not expecting to have one iota of sympathy for let alone actually like Laurel but then I guess that's the writing of great characters for you. And there's no two ways about it as far as I'm concerned in Laurel Peterson Bonnie E. Carlson has a great character.
The story of middle-aged woman who, a what, a 'functioning alcoholic'? is now in recovery; though currently sober Laurel is fighting a continuous battle with the demon drink. A battle that is temporarily lost when one fateful night she has a drink which leads to another and another until, well, the rest, as they say is history.
Thank goodness that her drink driving doesn't lead to any fatalities. I'm guessing that along with many other readers I wouldn't have felt for Laurel as I did if there had have been (Hmm! There's a thought. Knowing what I came to know of her would I have have quite as much empathy if their had have been a fatality?) As it was, I despaired for Laurel; part of me just wanted to shake her; 'why Laurel, why? - but then its never that simple as the author points out.
Don't get me wrong whilst this is a great exploration about the nature of addiction (and not just Laurel's, there are several other characters within the story who are likewise fighting their own demons) it's also a story about relationships (both healthy and not so healthy); not least of which is Laurel's relationship with both her narcissistic mother and her son who, having been for adopted as a child, is only now seeking her out.
Ah yes! The son.
Only a small gripe I know but why, why were told about the son in the synopsis? Personally I'd much rather have discovered him in the book.
But, anyway ...
But, anyway ...
That the author is not judgemental and does not lay blame at anyone's door, that she does not lead us into any conclusions as to why Laurel is the person she is but rather explores the complexities of relationships and the nature of addiction makes this a compulsive read.
And, oh yes, as a Brit I got a fascinating insight into the workings of the American judicial system and the working of their probation service.
SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... An insightful look into the nature of addiction wrapped up in a story full of memorable characters.
The second book to be received from the New York- based Adelaide Books (my review of the first, Beulah Who Thought She Was Swimming, can be found here). My thanks to the publicity team for providing two paper copies.